Behind the scenes: Cleveland Indian projections

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

It’s time to see what Terry Francona has to look forward to in 2013. The Indians are a rebuilding project, but here are three players who have some promise, and I think are worth a look in a deep league.

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Let’s start with their catcher, Carlos Santana. I am not sure that Mr. Santana qualifies as a middle to late round pick in a deep league. His homeruns were down, and there was some discussion about this regression, but is there really much to be concerned about? Owners who only drafted Carlos for home runs were disappointed. He hit 18 round-trippers in 2012, versus 27 in 2011. Granted, his power index was down 26% (147 in 2011 vs. 108 in 2012), but everything else was fine. Hint regarding catchers; strategy-wise, I never draft a catcher for power. There is too much risk (injury, fatigue, etc.) at the position to rely on a catcher for power. I rank catchers, draft the best ones (notice the plural) I can, and hope for the best. While I have not completed my final position rankings for 2013, I imagine Mr. Santana, in spite of those lower power numbers, will be in the top third. First, and foremost, Carlos is 26 years old, and, as a catcher, is still developing. Catchers tend to develop later than others, offensively, and 2012 was only his second full season in the major leagues. There is no doubt he had a monster rookie year (27 HRs, 84 runs, 79 RBI, 5 SB), but his second year was pretty darn good, as well. He hit the above mentioned 18 HRs, scored 72, drove in 76, stole 3 bags, and improved his BA from .239 to .252. So, what does this mean for 2013? I tend to be conservative with catchers, so I would not project much more in the counting stats area, than what we saw in 2012. Batting average might continue to improve, though. Mr. Santana has an 82.0% CT and a 15.4% walk-rate, and, while we may or may not see significant improvement in 2013, I think owners will continue to see his average creep up, and I would not rule out a .272 average in the next few years. If you have Carlos in a dynasty league, the next few years should be very satisfying. Enjoy.

Next up, Michael Brantley. What do you do with a player that does not really excel in any area, but does not hurt you either? You draft them. There is nothing in Michael’s 6 HRs, 63 runs scored, 60 RBI, 12 SB, 2012 season, that screams “draft me,” but if you are in a 15+ team league, those numbers, and his .288 BA, were helpful from a fifth outfielder. Upside? Perhaps in the stolen base department. He topped-out at 46 bags in 2009, but that was AAA. His SPD has been very consistent in the last four years, so I think double-digit thefts are in the bag (see what I did there?) but I would not draft for the upside. If you get it, wonderful, but don’t hang your hat on more than 15 SBs. Otherwise, take a look at 2012, and plug those numbers in your spreadsheet for 2013.

Let’s finish with starting pitcher, Zach McAllister. I am a Zach McAlllister fan. I was outbid on him in my league, last year, and given his ERA, that was probably for the best, but I am going to try and snag Zach late in my 2013 draft, and enjoy the production. First, the downside. Zach gave up 1.36 HR/9 in 2012 and his ERA of 4.24 was almost identical to his xERA of 4.05, that there really was nothing to hope for, there. However, in about a half season of work, Zach struck out 110 batters, and that gives me some reason for optimism. Last season Zach had a DOM of 7.9 to go with a very nice CTL of 2.7. His minor league numbers support these and I think that not only gives Mr. McAllister 165 Ks in 2013, but I think his ERA has a decent shot at finding its way below 4.00. His 1.4 HR/FB is a concern, but his 40% FB% is not so bad that he cannot correct that. I think you may be able to pick Zach towards the end of deep league drafts, and I would not hesitate to do so.

Did I miss an Indian you would like me to review? Let me know, and I will do my best.

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